Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, April 11, 2021 — Houston, TX 61°

Second doses of the vaccine are coming soon. The Rice community should be prepared.

By Thresher Editorial Board     3/9/21 9:38pm

Last month, over 800 members of the Rice community received a surprise first dose of the Moderna vaccine, which was provided by the Harris County Public Health Department after a power outage caused vaccines to unexpectedly defrost. Individuals who were vaccinated on campus are slated to receive their second dose on March 22. It is imperative that students and administration adequately prepare for hundreds of Rice community members to receive their second doses in the coming weeks.

The second dose of the Moderna vaccine has been linked to fever, fatigue, headache, and chills, with some research reporting that 17 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 64 developed fever after their second dose. We can reasonably expect that a significant proportion of the Rice community will be out of commission in the days immediately following March 22, which falls on a Monday — likely impacting students’ academic performance for at least part of the week. 

While this second dose, along with the Feb. 15 vaccination, might be one of the first times that the vaccine impacts so many Rice community members at once, it most likely won’t be the last. After Monday’s vaccine update email from Kevin Kirby, the chair of the Crisis Management Team, it seems as though Rice is slowly making progress toward being able to vaccinate community members once the state deems us eligible for vaccines. As the semester passes and more students get the vaccine, more of us may be impacted by the side effects of inoculation. 

Keeping this in mind, professors should factor vaccinations into their class’s sick policy. We ask for professors to treat side effects of the vaccine like a normal sickness in any other year, by allowing increased flexibility for due dates and assignments in the days following students’ receipt of the second dose.

Although many members of the Rice community were able to get their first dose, many weren’t — a fact students who have received their vaccine must remain cognizant of. The members of the Rice community who were lucky enough to receive the vaccine should, in addition to planning and preparing for possible symptoms after their second dose, remember that they will take around two weeks to develop immunity to the virus. Even after those two weeks, vaccine effectiveness has been found to sit at roughly 92.1 percent, and research is still ongoing regarding virus transmissibility post-vaccine, especially as new variants make their way around

As The Atlantic’s Rachel Gutman wrote in her article on navigating the era in which Americans are only semi-vaccinated: “When deciding what you can and can’t do [as a vaccinated individual], you should think less about your own vaccination status, and more about whether your neighbors, family, grocery clerks, delivery drivers, and friends are still vulnerable to the virus.” For the Rice community, this also includes our classmates, faculty, and staff. According to Gutman’s interviews with medical experts, the jury is still out on whether those individuals pose a serious risk of transmission to non-vaccinated people, so everyone at Rice should continue to be careful.

According to guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors unmasked with one another, but should still mask in public, avoid larger gatherings, delay travel, and continue to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Vaccinated Rice students should review these guidelines carefully and continue to uphold the Culture of Care agreement.

The surprise vaccinations of Feb. 15 gave the Rice community and administration almost no time to make plans, but we have foresight when it comes to the upcoming booster shots. Let’s be prepared.

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Rishab Ramapriyan, Ivanka Perez, Amy Qin, Nayeli Shad, Ella Feldman, Katelyn Landry, Rynd Morgan, Savannah Kuchar, Ben Baker-Katz, Simona Matovic and Dalia Gulca.

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 4/6/21 9:35pm
We still need to care about voter suppression in a post-Trump America

Just a couple of months ago, Gov. Greg Abbott declared “election integrity” to be an emergency item for the 2021 Texas legislative session. This was promptly followed by the National Republican Party launching a committee to pursue state election laws, praising Abbott’s initiative. With Senate Bill 7 (SB 7) and its House equivalent (HB 6), in addition to other bills directed at restricting voting access like House Bill 2293, marginalized groups will be further restricted from their right to vote. Shift workers who rely on later voting place hours will be without options. Individuals with disabilities who require vote-by-mail will be burdened with providing proof of their condition. Drive-thru voting will be banned. The role of poll watchers, already infamous for attracting self-appointed vigilantes of voter intimidation, will be able to record voters who receive help filling out their ballots. 

OPINION 4/6/21 9:19pm
Willy Week no more: Students have the power to distance from William Marsh Rice

This year’s Beer Bike Week looks quite different from years past, even in name. Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman encouraged Beer Bike coordinators to rename Willy Week to reflect the different nature of the event due to COVID restrictions. Individual college Beer Bike coordinators chose a variety of new, college-specific names; many told the Thresher that they were further motivated to change the name to distance their college from William Marsh Rice and that they may carry the name change into future years. Coordinators’ swift renaming of Willy Week reminds us that students have a lot of power at this university — and that we can and should use it to foster a Rice community that we’re proud of.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.